Growing up in an area of Eastern Missouri where Osage Indians camped and hunted for 14,000 years, even a little kid can occasionally spot a hand-flaked arrowhead or spear point, according to Scott Louthauser, seasoned collector and student of Native American archeology.
On Sunday, April 22, Louthauser joined 15 artifact collectors at JP’s Sports Bar and Grill in Eureka to show off their collections and possibly trade.
The show, which attracted a steady stream of attendees, was the brainchild of Gene Portell, JP’s cook, who is a collector.
When he asked Lisa Mullinax, JP’s bar manager, to hold a show, she suggested the event be held on Earth Day and benefit a local nonprofit organization. They quickly settled on the Wolf Sanctuary, which is located in Eureka.
Louthauser’s collection is unique in that he has a number of Wadlows, monster-sized blades, flat across the bottom, that he and a friend found as one cache, maybe stored away for later use by a hunter more than a thousand years ago.
Louthauser explained that the Wadlows are usually found with Etleys, blades with shoulders for attachment to a spear or stick.
“Historians think they were preformed and later carved with hooked shoulders to be attached to a spear or stick,” he said. “Once the bottom is formed they are Etleys.”
Eastern Missouri is the site of thousands of Etley caches, which date from 3,000 to 1,000 B.C., he noted.
“Anyone intent on finding them can find them,” Louthauser said.
Near the show entry, Ron Mapes of Villa Ridge, a frequent pool player and docent at the Wolf Sanctuary, was anxious to show off his collection. He set up his display of arrowheads, spear points, mastodon teeth, a petrified turtle shell and a snippet of dinosaur skin, all verified by Mastodon State Park geologists.
But his most rare find is an almost complete piece of pottery with a human face worked into the crown that he found in a shallow cave in Warrenton.
“There were three overhangs there that made great places for the Indians to camp out of severe weather,” Mapes said. “I found this leaning against a tree in front of one of the caves.”
Greg Berkel from St. Louis displayed 15 cases of Stone Age spear and arrow points, which were only part of his collection.
Berkel was about 8 when he was walking alone in a creek on the family farm in Leslie when he spotted a small pointed stone. He knew immediately it was an arrowhead, but he did not become a serious collector until 16 years later.
At age 22, the drilling company he worked for was drilling in the St. Albans area when the auger pulled up a large cache of flint flaked stones. He has been collecting ever since.
“It is just something that once you start you keep going,” Portell said. “I didn’t know if this many collectors would show, but I knew there was a lot of interest in Native American archeology. The Indians were here a long time and left us a lot of stuff.”